Saturday, February 23, 2013

Yellow Springs Brewery

One of the big downsides when I first moved to Dayton was the lack of craft beer. Sure, I could find a decent selection to purchase in local stores, but finding it on tap in local bars was, when I first arrived, a much more difficult proposition. Happily, that day has passed. And even better, it appears that we are on the cusp of resolving the next dilemma, the lack of locally produced beer. Last spring saw the opening of Dayton Beer Company, and now we are on the cusp of a second opening, Yellow Springs Brewery. And I’ll be honest—I’m much more exited about the opening of this one, primarily because I know people involved with the brewery, specifically Jeffrey McElfresh, who is the head brewer. You all, of course, should remember Jeffrey: he currently ranks somewhere between England and North Carolina in the postings. Something tells me, though, that just like the Jeffersons, he’ll soon be moving on up.

So since I know Jeffrey, I’ve been lending a hand whenever I could. After all, opening a brewery requires a hell of a lot of planning and work, the vast majority of which focuses more on the thank-less drudge-like variety than on the dreamy rock-star brewer variety. Nonetheless, it has had its moments. Scrubbing the residual pepperoni smell out of the walk-in cooler was an experience: who would have thought that pepperoni had such staying power? Talk about your funk of 40,000 years! Then there was the day I spent taping insulation around glycol lines. I learned two things that day: 1) mindlessly repetitive tasks can, on occasion, be enjoyable, and 2) Chris Wyatt, while scientifically-minded and logical, can’t tape worth shit.

But all of this brings me to today. Today was the pay-off for the previous days, because today was a brew day. Just like at home with the homebrewing, but on a much, much larger scale. Much larger. I’ve provided a couple of pictures—yes, just acouple—from a day spent revelling in brewing on a professional scale: we brewed a saison using 3711 and Nelson Sauvin, which means that the beer contains everything a growing boy (or girl!) needs in saison form. Sure, I could have probably taken more photos (and I did), but we can save some of those for later. After all, I’m pretty certain there will be more on Yellow Springs Brewery in the near furture. And as the grand opening looms closer, I’m also guessing there will be more opportunities for hijinx and chicanery, and well as more of the diligence and hard work alluded to before. Which is all just a fancy way of saying both thank you and welcome to Yellow Springs Brewery.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Rockit Cup Belgian Pale Ale Brewday

So since this is a last minute thing, some sacrifices had to be made: I subbed Dingemans Cara 8 for the Weyermann CaraMunich and had to condescend to use American Saaz. And pellets, too! As with all things last minute that are unavailable, I blame Darren.

139. Rockit Cup Belgian Pale Ale
7 lbs. Dingemans
2 lbs. Weyermann Vienna
10 oz. Dingemans Cara 8
8 oz. Dingemans Aromatic
6 oz. Dingemans Biscuit

Mash @ 152° F for 60 minutes w/ 3 ½ gallons of RO water, ½ tsp. gypsum, & ½ tsp. CaCl2; collected 2 ¼ gallons @ 1.080
Batch sparge @ 170° F for 20 minutes w/ 4 gallons RO water; collected 4 gallons @ 1.026

Collected 6 ¼ gallons; topped off with ½ gallon RO water, added ¼ tsp. gypsum & ¼ tsp. CaCl2, brought to a boil (90 minutes), & added:
w/60 to go: 1 oz. U.S. Saaz pellet 8.1% AA

w/15 to go: ½ oz. U.S. Saaz pellet 8.1% AA

w/5 to go: ½ oz. U.S. Saaz pellet 8.1% AA

Chilled, racked to carboy, and pitched White Labs 570 Belgian Golden 

Brewed: 2/17/2013
Secondary: 2/28/2013 @ 1.014; bottled 1 gallon w/ .6 oz table sugar
Bottled: 4/6/2013 w/ 2.4 oz. table sugar

OG: 1.054 @ 73° F
FG: 1.008

Tasting Notes (4/28/2013): Rockit Cup BPA pours a hazy orange copper with a thin white head that has moderate staying power. The nose is soft bread dough mixed with creamy banana; as it opens there is some toast and bread crust and plenty of Belgian esters—in addition to the banana, I get orange and floral brightness. Flavors start with toast, bread crust, and a touch of brown sugar; the smooth banana creaminess comes in the middle, and the finish is orange and bread dough. I get a touch of bitterness in the finish, but not much elsewhere in the profile—the contributions from the yeast cover over quite a bit here—the is certainly more Belgian that Pale Ale, even as a BPA. The carbonation is bright but not quite spritzy, and the beer has more body than I expected for a beer finishing at 1.008: both contribute to a silky and rounded mouthfeel that is quite delightful. I think the basic beer is good, but it does need to increase the hop additions. I do think the White Labs 570 yeast is outstanding; it is certainly something to return to and experiment with in more detail—the yeast contributions and intangibles provided are delightful and bring life and character to the beer.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

More Brett Beers Brewday

Say that ten times fast, funny guy.

So today was all about producing more wort to dispense out onto various Brettanomyces yeast cakes made available by racking other beer off into secondaries. Simple, huh? What I discovered was that the ECY04 did its job, but the ECY05 is not pleased about the currently cooler temperatures in my house—it had only dropped to 1.040 from the initial 1.060. It also had a syrupy, viscious mouthfeel, something akin to what I would expect from the descriptions I’ve read regarding the “sick phase” that lambics pass through in the winter months. So we’ll have to wait and see what happens when the temperatures start to warm up. After all, now I’ve got two 3 gallon carboys with ECY05, so we can see if the newest versions gets any farther in a more timely manner.

138. More Brett Beers
6 lbs. MFB Pale
2 lbs. Weyermann Pilsen
1 lb. MFB Vienna
1 lb. White Wheat

Mash @ 148° F for 70 minutes w/ 3 gallons of RO water & 2 g. gypsum; collected 2 gallons @ 1.076
Batch sparge @ 165° F for 20 minutes w/ 4 gallons RO water & 2 g. gypsum; collected 4 gallons @ 1.028

Collected 5 gallons; topped off with 1 gallon RO water, brought to a boil (70 minutes), & added:
w/60 to go: 1 ½ oz. Magnum pellet 10.0% AA

w/10 to go: 1 oz. Magnum pellet 10.0% AA

Chilled, and split batch onto yeasts cakes in two 3 gallon carboys:
138a. yeast cake of 100a. Wild Yeast Lambic Raspberry & ECY04 BrettBlend #1
Brewed: 2/16/2013
Secondary: 5/10/2013 @ 1.000
Bottled: 6/10/2013 w/ 2.5 oz. table sugar

OG: 1.042 @ 73° F; dropped to 64° F over first 24 hours
FG: 1.000

138b. yeast cake of 132b. ECY05 Brett Blend #9
Brewed: 2/16/2013
Secondary: 7/25/2013 @ 1.002

OG: 1.042 @ 73° F; dropped to 64° F over first 24 hours

Tasting Notes:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

559. Prairie Prairie Hop

So a couple of firsts today: our first beer from Prairie Artisan Ales, and our first beer from Oklahoma. Brothers Chase and Colin Healey are the two behind Prairie, and their focus on saisons and barrel aging is, well, right up my alley. As well, this beer has cute mices on the label. Which we both like. These cute mices are distinctly unlike the bad mices currently infesting our garage. Because, as you can see on the label, these cute mices are staying outdoors where they belong, and not chewing off the shoulder straps on our backpacks to get salt and otherwise cover our camping gear with mouse feces. Those bad mices need to get kicked to the curb.

Described on the label as a “dry hopped Belgian-style ale,” Prairie Hop pours a crystal clear gold and features a thin but persistent white head that re-rouses very easily. It does offer a touch of lacing, that, while technically Belgian, is too limited to accord it that designation. The dry hops are evident in the nose—they are dry, earthy, and lightly spicy—as is the sweet candy malt. There are also floral, fruity, and perfume-y aspects we would connect to the yeast, although they could potentially be hop derived as well. Behind all of this there is slight musty pepperiness that is quite beguiling; it took a fair amount of time to sort this out from the rest of the aromatics. As it warms, some lemon and light pine emerges as well. Flavors start sweet, with candy malt coupled with pepper-y and spicy hop flavor; in the middle, there are floral and fruits flavors—lemon and pear—along with spice and pine from the hops, as well as a decent dose of bitterness. The finish is dry with biscuit malt and a floral pear evergreen that sits on the tongue, along with some lingering bitterness and alcohol flavor. The mouthfeel is dry and cracker-y, with the carbonation providing some bright spritziness, although this doesn’t mask all of the alcohol warmth that is present in the beer. The body contains paradoxical features; while certainly dry and well-attenuated, there is also a residual sweetness (flavor, not mouthfeel) that is present—a bit too present, to be honest. The dryness is well-done, but the remaining sweetness stands out—it gets in the way of the other more delicate flavors. Still, this is an interesting and enjoyable beer, it just feels not fully formed as it stands: it needs to cut the residual sweetness and either lower the ABV to lessen the alcohol warmth, or ferment the beer at a lower temperature. The concept here, though, is solid—it reminds me of something I might make. As well, this beer does a lot of things right. The ephemeral subtle nuance created by the combination of yeast and hops is a big strength; the combination offers flavors that are delicious and that flow seamlessly together—an intangible certainly worth noting in this beer. Nice job, Prairie. This is what an American saison should be. American-hopped saison? Don’t mind if I do! We do look forward to trying more from this brewery. When that will be, however, is an entirely another matter. You guys coming to Ohio soon?

From the Prairie Facebook page: “Prairie Hop - 7% Saison dry-hopped with Citra and Galaxy hops.”

ABV: 7.0%


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

558. The Bruery 5 Golden Rings

And now onto the last beer of the evening: the Bruery’s 5 Golden Rings. Technically, we had a Timothy Taylor’s Landlord to close out the evening after this, but we’re not counting that. Previous excursions into the land of my personal beer fantasy world include Marrón Acidifié (a collabo with Cigar City), Autumn Maple, Humulus Session, 3 French Hens, Saison de Lente, Rugbrød, Hottenroth, Orchard White and Saison Rue.

5 Golden Rings pours an opaque golden orange with a thin white head—you can see the carbonation fighting through the body in slow, measured time. The nose is a tart, citric pineapple front and center; behind that, there is some chewy rounded Belgian malt and yeast character, but the pineapple is currently running the show. Flavors start with pineapple and malt sweetness, leading into a chewier rounded middle mixed with alcohol warmth. In the finish, there is a touch of bitterness before the alcohol heat comes into play—it is the warmth that points to the youth of this beer more than anything else. This beer is going to need some time to come together—the pineapple is too much the pineapple-juice-out-of-a-can-of-fruit right now, and the alcohol warmth is a too much. I will say that the beer is well-attenuated; I expected it to get stickier as it warmed, when it actually dried out more on the palate. But otherwise, this beer needs to sit in the cellar for two or three years to figure itself out. Because right now—and it does pain me to say this, loving on the Bruery as I do—this beer is not very drinkable. So if you’ve got it, age it for posterity. Come back to this one. Forget about it for now. You might not thank me later, but you’ll certainly thank me now. 

From the bottle: “The fifth verse of our ‘Twelve Beers of Christmas’ saga incorporates sweet, cake-like spice into a rich and robust golden ale. Happy Holidays! 5 Golden Rings is suitable for aging up to seven years (soon after release of ‘Twelve Drummers Drumming’) when cellared properly.”

ABV: 11.5%


557. Cigar City Cucumber Saison

So the De Ranke was our opening salvo in an evening of indulgence. Next up: Cigar City’s Cucumber Saison. We’ve seen Cigar City before—often provided by Jeff Fortney—and this evening was no exception. This is our fourth reported beer from Cigar City (plus a visit to the brewery!), including Marrón Acidifié (the collaboration with the Bruery), Guava Grove, and José Martí American Porter. All in all, fine, fine beers. Like this one.

Cucumber Saison pours a pale hazy straw with a thin white head; the nose is—as one would both hope and expect with a beer carrying this name—cucumber front and center. As the beer opens up, it moves from fresh-cut cucumber towards pickle, although it never quite gets fully there. The skin character of the cucumber aroma continues to grow as the beer warms. Flavors open with a soft dough-y sweetness that gives way quickly to the cucumber along with an almost vegetable peppery spiciness. The cucumber continues throughout, with flavors moving towards pickle—like in the nose. There is a slight touch of bitterness in the finish, but it is restrained, allowing the cucumber to remain the dominant flavor. The mouthfeel is chewy but the body is well attenuated, creating a bright, clean, crisp and refreshing beer. I can see how many would balk at the idea of this beer, but, well, those people are wrong. Dead wrong. This beer is awesome, and would go fantastically with food—grilled summer food, specifically. Here’s to Cigar City for pushing the envelope on craft beer in interesting and productive ways. Kudos to Wayne and company. 

From the bottle: “The humble gherkin. Usually we encounter this unassuming green fruit pickled or sliced and flung atop a salad. But the cucumber has so much more to offer us. It is a remarkably refreshing gourd with the power to cool a dry tongue and when just two sliced wheels are placed atop the eyes of a lounging lass in a stock ad for the spa the mystical cucumber has the magical ability to justify obscene spa service fees. Truly an amazing botanical gift to the world! We chose to employ the cucumber in a low gravity Saison to create a refreshing seasonal ale redolent with notes of honey, tropical fruit, lemon bitterness and of course cucumber. Brewed as a survival tool for the Florida Summer, this cucumber creation features Citra and Sorachi Ace hops. So put some cucumber wheels on your eyes, lean back, relax and enjoy. Ahhhhhh.”

ABV: 6.0%


556. De Ranke Hop Harvest 2012

Another beer from our trip to Louisville to see the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships. And another European fresh hop beer! Will wonders never cease? This is our third beer from Brouwerij De Ranke in Wevelgem, Belgium, following Kriek De Ranke and Cuvée De Ranke. Basically, if it says De Ranke, count us in.

De Ranke Hop Harvest 2012 pours a clear—albeit slightly hazy—bright gold. It has a thin, clean white head that hangs around and also re-rouses easily. The nose is a mix of fruitiness—from the yeast esters I would think, but they could be hop-derived as well—and Belgian candy malt mixed with hop bitterness. In the nose, it is reminiscent of a Belgian golden ale or a blonde, although the bitterness is more pronounced—it is actually quite beguiling, as the fruit, Belgian candy, and bright spritzy hop bitterness all dance together in the nose. Flavors are clean and crisp with the soft malt character found in many Belgian beers; it starts with malt sweetness and Belgian candy before the bitterness comes into play in the middle. There is also a mineral/hard water component mixed in with the hop bitterness that contributes the light refreshing character. The finish is dry—bone dry—and chalk full of bitterness. There might be a developing brettanomyces component coming in along with the dry bitterness in the finish (this could account for the fruitiness in the nose beyond the yeast esters), as it does finish that dry, but we’re not certain, and we couldn’t find anything online one way or the other. Like Winter 13, this is not quite an American-style fresh hop beer, although this one is much closer than Winter 13. Still, this is a fantastic beer in its own right, and certainly worth looking for again, even as an out of date fresh hop beer. Bank.

From the RateBeer website: “Hop Harvest 2012 is a well balanced blond ale with a floral and grassy character. The 2012 edition has a Père Noël base with XX Bitter hops.”
ABV: 6.0%

Monday, February 11, 2013

April Rockit Cup: Single-Hop Session IPA

April is the second anniversary of the Rockit Cup, so we’re trying something new: a standardized recipe with one intentional variable. In this case, you get to choose the single hop variety you use in the beer. For example, I will most likely use Comet. If you have the technical knowledge, ability, and, more importantly, desire, modify the 60 minute bittering addition to aim for 50 IBUs.

April Rockit Cup:
Single-Hop Session IPA
OG: 1.048 @ 70% efficiency
FG: 1.014
IBU: aim for 50
SRM: 5
ABV: 4.5%

8.5 lbs. American 2-row
1 lb. Dingemans Cara 8
½ lb.White Wheat

Mash at 151˚ F for 60 minutes

Choose the single hop you want to feature in this beer, and use the following hop schedule:
1 oz. @ 60 minutes
1 oz. @ 20 minutes
1 ½ oz. @ 5 minutes
1 ½ oz. @ 0 minutes
1 oz. dry hop

Wyeast 1272 American II/ White Labs 051 California Ale V

Ferment at 68˚ F
Carbonate to 2.0 volumes

Hop to it!

March Rockit Cup: Belgian Pale Ale

Time now for something Belgian. Short turnaround on this one, however, so let’s get busy with the brewing. Thanks to Darren Link for the recipe. Remember, if anything goes wrong, it is his fault, not mine. A good brewer doesn’t blame his tools.

March Rockit Cup: Belgian Pale Ale
OG: 1.050 @ 70%
FG: 1.011
IBU: 26
SRM: 13
ABV: 5.1%
7 lbs. Dingemans Pale Malt
2 lbs. Weyermann Vienna
6 oz. Dingemans Biscuit
10 oz. Weyermann Caramunich II Malt
8 oz .Dingemans Aromatic
Mash at 151˚ F; use ½ tsp CaSO4 & ½ tsp CaCl2 in mash & ¼ tsp CaSO4 & ¼ tsp. CaCl2 in boil
90 minute boil
1 oz. Czech Saaz @ 60
½ oz. Czech Saaz @ 15
½ oz. Czech Saaz@ 5
Wyeast Belgian Ardennes 3522/White Labs Belgian Golden 570
Ferment at 65˚ F
Carbonate to 2.0 volumes
Get to work!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Rockit Cup Grinder’s Mild: Recap

In an unprecedented turn of events, we had eight brewers for the February Rockit Cup—Grinder’s Mild—and ten different versions total (I split my batch between 1968 and 1728, and Brian brought a kegged and bottled version). Our eight brewers included the usual cast of miscreants and vagabonds, like myself, Brian Gallow, Jake Browning, Jeff Fortney, Chris Wyatt, and
More Jeremy Fish
Darren Link, plus two new entries (three people all told, including brewing partners): Matt, Wes, and Christina. Sorry, I didn’t think to ask their last names. This is not the first time I have failed miserably in a social situation. Nor will it be the last. Matt, Wes, and Christina, please feel free to get me up to speed through the comments if you so desire. [Update: Matt Young and Wes & Christina Davis!]

Ten beers meant a lot of chaos; while Chris was not in attendance—for his own recipe, mind you—that still left us with nine people, since Jeffrey got grandfathered in as a table participant even though he didn’t brew. There are perks that come with being one half of the pair that came up with Rockit Cup brand name. Copyright, yo. Anyway, since there were too many beers to effectively rank, and since the shitty paper cups I graciously bought and brought out of my own personal benevolence were not suitable to the tender palates of some out our participants (ahem—Brian!—ahem), we only ranked our top five beers, and came up with a list of the top three:

1st:  Brian Gallow (bottled)
2nd: Matt Young [Updated!]
3rd: Chris Wyatt

There are too many beers to offer any semblance of commentary. All were broadly similar, with slight differences that made them stand out. Brian’s winning version had a chewier mouthfeel that I enjoyed (I voted for it as the best beer as well). I did write on my comment sheet next to what turned out to be one of my versions “not good,” which I do appreciate. Matt’s was drier and hoppier, but I also voted for it in second place. I didn’t write anything next to Chris’s version, although I circled it to mark it as part of my top five—I put it at fifth. Still, good times had by all. We’ll be doing a short turn around for March’s Rockit Cup, which will be a Belgian Pale Ale; I’ll be posting it shortly.

And in this case, the winners didn’t write the history books. Snap-pow!


Saturday, February 2, 2013

555. Hof ten Dormaal Winter 13 & UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships

We found this in Louisville, which we were visiting to attend the 2013 UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships. And while this beer is good, the racing was even better. Mud? Check! Evil climbs and tortuous tracks? Check! Beer? Check! Disgruntled Europeans? Double-check! The unexpected elements included snow (although I will admit, I did wish for it, and was happy to get it) a flooding river next to the course, which meant that all the Sunday races got bumped to Saturday. Good thing, too, as the course was flooded on Sunday.

After the racing was over, we made our way to the Louisville Beer Store. If you recall, we’ve been there before. Technically, we had tacos along the way at Taco Punk, but for the purposes of this blogpost, I am glossing that part over to speed things up. The beautiful thing about the Louisville Beer Store: you can sample beers on draft while browsing.
In this case, they had a selection of four To Øl (they’re in Denmark) beers on tap, so we got a sampler of those, which included First Frontier IPA, Final Frontier DIPA, Sans Frontiere Belgian IPA, and Goliat Coffee Imperial Stout. For more on their beers, you can see here. Good beers, and interesting, although the hop presence in the various IPA version was, not surprisingly, below American standards for the style. My favorite was the Sans Frontiere, while Elli’s was the Final Frontier. Anyway, while browsing, we came across Hof ten Dormaal Winter 13, which is described on the label as a “wet-hopped Belgian Farmhouse Ale brewed with fresh hops from the Dormaal Farm.” If you know about my fresh hop fetish, then you know I was sold at “wet-hopped.” Sure, Belgian is great, and Farmhouse is also good—my love of saisons is also well known—but I needed nothing more than the “wet-hopped” descriptor to make this purchase, even with the knowledge that it was most certainly past its prime. I mean, seriously, how hard is it to resist the idea of European fresh hop beer? Wait, don’t answer that question.

Winter 13 pours a hazy burnished gold with a creamy white head that rouses easy and hangs on well. The initial nose is phenolic and slightly plastic-y, but some swirling of the glass bleeds them off, leaving behind grassy and herbal hop aromas followed by bubblegum phenols and candy sweet malt. The Belgian flavors are front and center: candy sweet malt and bubblegum phenols to open, while the middle is slightly gummy with herbal hop flavor leading into a juicy finish that also features a fair amount of dry bitterness. The hops are not as front and center as I would have hoped, but that’s not surprising given that it is February and this is a 2012 wet hop beer (even with the generousness of labeling this a 2013 beer—i.e. following the name of the beer—these are 2012 hops). The carbonation is prickly but not quite spritzy, which balances well with the chewy and gummy mouthfeel. Overall, this is a delicious and fantastic beer; it is not quite up to par for a wet hop beer, as the Belgian yeast character takes over the remaining fresh hop characteristics still hanging around, but the Belgian malt and yeast flavors almost make up for it. As well, the 8.0% ABV does play into muting the potential delicate hop flavors. Nonetheless, I am certainly happy to see that the interest in wet-hopped beers is spreading in the Old World.

Translated from the Wikipedia Hof ten Dormaal page: “Winter 13 (2012), blond beer with an alcohol content of 8%, with the addition of fresh hops from own cultivation (Magnum and Cascade).”

I do so love Google Translate.

ABV: 8.0%